TITLE: Archareo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Mexico State
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Archareo (Archer) Mask
MAKER: Daniel Nuñez, San Martín de las Pirámides
CEREMONY: Fiesta de San Martín
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: leather
OTHER MATERIALS: felt; goat fur; paint; stitching

The Danza de los Archareos (Dance of the Archers), also called the Danza de los Alchilelos, Archileos, Alchareos, and other variants, is performed on the Feast Day of San Martín (April 13th) every year in the village of San Martín de los Pirámides. Similar dances are performed elsewhere in Mexico State and Guerrero.  It is a form of Christians and Moors dance, with the masked archers representing the evil Moors.  The Moors dance to flute and drum music in a group wearing brightly colored outfits.  The Christians similarly dance in a group, mostly unmasked (except for the leader, who has a mock horse and represents St. James the Apostle) and wearing elaborate capes and feathered hats. Eventually, the groups engage in mock battles with swords, which the Christians inevitably win.

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TITLE: Diablo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Mexico State
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Emmanuel Vázquez, Mexico City (1982- )
CEREMONY: Día de los Muertos
AGE: 2017
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; polyester ribbon

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an annual celebration in Mexico whose origin dates back to the Aztecs. It was originally part of the cult of worship of the goddess Mictecacihuatl held during the summer, but with colonization it was syncretized to coincide with the Catholic holiday Allhallowtide. It is now primarily held on October 31 and November 1.

During Día de los Muertos, Mexican families set up altars (ofrendas) to memorialize departed loved ones and hold night-long vigils at their graves. It is believed that the spirits (fantasmas) visit their families, with the children returning on October 1 and the adults on November 1. The altars contain offerings of the things most enjoyed by the departed, primarily sweets and games for children and mescal, fruits, sweet bread (pan de muerto), and savory foods for adults.  In addition, townspeople in some places, such as Oaxaca, hold costumed parades (comparsas), with such characters as skeletons (calaveras), Aztecs, and devils prominently represented, mixed more recently with Halloween characters taken from U.S. popular culture.

In Mexico City and surrounding areas, the Halloween element of Día de los Muertos dominates. Residents of Mexico City frequently dress in elaborate costumes, sometimes with masks, but more frequently with faces painted like catrins and catrinas (highly decorated, elegant skeletons representing wealthy Spaniards). This mask was hand made by an artisan in Mexico City to be sold for the former purpose.

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TITLE: Viejo Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Mexico State
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Viejo (Old Man) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker (possibly Delfino Castillo Alonso) in Santa María Astahuacán
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: early 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wax
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cloth; synthetic hair; yarn; thread; paint

In a few villages in Estado de México (Mexico State), Carnival masqueraders wear masks representing viejos (distinguished old men) or charros (country gentlemen) made of wax formed over a plastic mold, meticulously painted, and threaded with decorated facial hair. They typically wear elaborately decorated suits and sombreros resembling the mariachi outfit, and dance with (unmasked) ladies wearing their finest dresses and hats to traditional music of guitars, trumpets, and drums.

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TITLE: Muerte Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Mexico State
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Muerte (Death) Mask
MAKER: Juan Bobadilla, Tlalpan, Mexico City
CEREMONY: Danza de los Apaches
AGE: 2016
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Danza de los Apaches, also known as the Danza de los Concheros, is a traditional dance in parts of Mexico State, including Tejupilco, Tonatico, Amatepec, Luvianos and Tlatlaya. The dance involves mostly unmasked characters. The dance celebrates Mexican independence (September 16th), with the dancers in costumes that crudely mimic the dress of Native American peoples, with colorful costumes and painted faces. The notion underlying the the dance is that the indigenous peoples of Mexico won independence from Spain, and therefore the “Apaches” (in some towns called Guaranis) represent the Mexican people. It begins with a parade, after which gachupines or costeños, who represent the Spaniards, raise a Spanish flag.  The Apaches (sometimes accompanied by negros, representing African slaves) carry machetes and dance to traditional music of flutes, drums, and sometimes European instruments such as trumpets and guitars, finally staging mock battles with the Spaniards, until the Apaches drive them away.  As they prevail, the character of death enters, wearing a calavera (skull) mask like this one, to symbolize the defeat of the colonizer.

Apaches may also dance on patron saint days in some towns, such as Villa de Guadalupe, Amecameca, Chalma, and Los Remedios.

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